I mentioned in a previous post that one of the best employers I’ve had was Johnson and Johnson. Previous to J&J, I never had an emotional connection to an employer. There was a glimmer of hope in my first job but after just 5 months, the dream company had merged with a big, bureaucratic, hierarchy-obsessed bank and my dreams were dashed. After that, I was thrust into the world of FMCG, where profit was king.
In J&J, it became a different kind of FMCG world. I was introduced to their Credo, which the company truly took to heart. In the first part of the Credo, it states that the consumers come first (mothers, fathers, babies, doctors, nurses — anyone using their products). Next is the community, third the employees and surprisingly, last would be the stockholders. They believe that if you make consumers happy, the profits will follow. This was literally the opposite of the company I worked for prior to J&J. In that company, the mission clearly stated that stockholders came first before consumers and it really showed in the way decisions were made.
I went through a culture shock in J&J because they really spent money launching (the year I entered was the Credo’s 60th year) and living the Credo – something that does not directly generate revenue. They even have annual anonymous Credo surveys (they were like exams to review your knowledge of the Credo) with questions asking if you knew of anyone who was acting unethically. (It made whistle-blowing very easy. I have often thought of proposing the Philippine government to adopt this.)
In Marketing, the Credo was our ultimate yardstick in developing products and our communications. That being said, I was truly in disbelief when I received an email from the Environmental Working Group talking about the presence of formaldehyde in Johnson’s Baby products. Because of the seriousness of the concern, my friends in marketing organized a lunch with the J&J Regional R&D head Robert Kwon, the pediatric dermatologists of the Philippines led by Dra. Dizon, a few of us bloggers and some magazine editors.
Here are my new learnings from the discussions as well as my own learnings from working in J&J:
1. Only the Johnson’s Baby Shampoo contains the ingredient that naturally emits formaldehyde. Even then, it shouldn’t be a cause for alarm.
- Formaldehyde is ever-present in our lives, including food (like apples, bananas, etc.)
- The amount of formaldehyde released from consuming 1 banana is 1,000x higher than the formaldehyde exposure from 1 shampoo.
- Clinically-tested just means the product was tested. It doesn’t say what tests it passed or failed. A lot of products say “clinically-tested” on their labels. Be wary of that.
- Johnson’s Baby products are Clinically Proven Mild. They undergo stringent tests where ALL test subjects have to pass 6 strict tests on toxicity, irritation, sensitization, etc.
- Suppliers and ingredients are tested strictly on the said tests above.
- I know this because I’m currently a supplier for the marketing side. For us, they are very strict already and they are even more strict with the manufacturing side.